The Swanky Hen

God Made. Jesus Saved. Texas Raised. Crazy Wife. Hot Mess Mommy.

Dimming Someone Else’s Light Won’t Make Yours Shine Any Brighter — May 20, 2019

Dimming Someone Else’s Light Won’t Make Yours Shine Any Brighter

A lot has been going on since my last post. I’m going to be honest about the writing gap. I have still been writing. I have blog posts written about life, décor, and remodel progress. I took a break from posting them because I let someone’s own insecurities and judgmental words get into my head.

I sat at a dinner a few weeks ago and I heard someone talking about blogs from the end of the table. I write about our remodel progress and have dabbled in blogging, so I was interested. What I heard was anything but kind. Aside from senselessly bashing a woman for blogging it was thrown in that people who blog should just stop because nobody cares to read it and they must have nothing better to do. Hmmm … necessary … kind … wholesome? No. It hurt for a myriad of reasons. I’m quite sure they knew that I have a blog, so it was just another blow in what has seemed like months of hurt. I wasn’t just hurt for myself, but it was just so senseless and evil to attack people for writing.

Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others. Ecclesiastes 7:21-22

Soft hearted, too sensitive, and taking all the things to heart … that’s me. Its not what the bible tells me to do and it sure isn’t a fun way to live. I am working on it, but its hard, y’all. Why are people so mean? I seem to have a knack for walking into situations where people are bashing others or bashing me. It happened many times in Victoria. I am apparently as quiet as a mouse because people never knew I was around. Jason always told me that its just what happens in the workplace, but my mind was always baffled by employees criticizing him when he did so much for them … and he was damn good at what he did. Instead of wanting to cry it made me angry. I often wish I was angrier instead of so emotional when it happens to me.

Rather than moving past these experiences I dwell on them. I feel the hurt deeply and it lasts a long time. I remember them vividly. Those are all awful qualities and nothing you want to do, I promise. I have worked a lot on myself in the past year, especially the last 6 months. I am better about forgiving, but I have not mastered forgetting. I know forgetting isn’t something that has to happen, I know forgiveness does not equal trust or relationship, but I really wish I could block out all the memories. The times I walked in on people I care about saying senselessly mean things about me, bashing me or my family, or at the worst, saying things that are false and unnecessary.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29

I know I can’t change what other people do and I sure can’t control them. I can’t snap my fingers and forget the evil words or hateful things that people say and do, but I can try to live everyday by not causing the hurt for others. I have experienced a lot of that senseless hurt over the last few months. Maybe it was intentional and maybe not. Maybe the blog crap was pointed at me and maybe not. Either way it hurts. Being left out, set aside, talked about, made to feel like you aren’t good enough, its all hard. Sometimes I cry and sometimes I get mad. Most of the time I don’t understand. Lately I have been most comforted by scripture, by understanding that there is a plan and a reason, and it won’t always be dark.

There have been times that I wish I wasn’t so soft hearted, that I didn’t care so much, but I do think that is me. I love hard and I care a lot and I know …

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:17-18

So, here’s to caring less about the words and actions of others and remembering more of His truth. If I want to write a blog about home décor, style, remodel, how I feel or even about a sermon my pastor gave, I’m going to do it. I am going to talk about how I feel and what I like, but I am going to do it with grace and kindness. I am going to continuously work to be the best version of myself and to help others achieve the same.

And its like I always tell my boys, “Dimming someone else’s light won’t make yours shine any brighter”. So lets help other people shine.



Remodel Chronicles Vol 1 — March 22, 2019

Remodel Chronicles Vol 1

Looking back, I can’t pinpoint what it was that made me say yes to this house. We had looked at so many places and nothing was working. This place had all we “needed” in the house and bonus … the land. We weren’t sure that land would be in the budget, but with this place we were able to make it work. I’m still not sure we should have because its so much work, but I am sure that once the work is done, we will be thankful for the beautiful 23 acres.

Overall the house was in good shape, but it needed some updates. I knew I wanted to update paint, flooring, and light fixtures, but there were also some bigger problems to tackle.

First was the kitchen. Whew … it was little. My main goal was to open the space, bring in some light, and create an area where I could enjoy cooking and spending time with my family. That meant taking down a wall. Opening the space completely changed the house. After we removed the wall (not as easy as it looks on TV) I updated the counter tops, added an overhang to allow seating at the new island, added shiplap, open shelving, and new facing on all cabs and drawers. I went with light and natural tones to try and keep it bright. Removing the wall meant losing lots of uppers so we built a large corner shelf to make up for the loss. The focal point of the kitchen is by far the vent hood cover. It is exactly what I wanted and turned out perfectly. I love the space we were able to create and the changes we made.


The guest bath was also in need of some love. It had been updated, but it was dark and not for me. We removed the dark wall tile and added some light shiplap. I updated the vanity and added some new fixtures to create a space that was more our style. I love this sweet little bathroom and that’s a good thing because the master bathroom is still in progress …

We love the way the house is turning out and still have a list of things to accomplish. I met with a new contractor this week to discuss the finishing touches. This project took a lot longer than expected due to a plethora of challenges, but slowly it is becoming home.


DEMO DAY — March 20, 2019


When Chip yells, “DEMO DAY” it looks super fun … right? I think it appears that way because he only does it for a little bit and it is fun … for a little bit. Then the crew comes in and Chip goes onto something else.

I admit, there is something quite therapeutic about busting tile, knocking down sheet rock and making a big old mess. My kids loved it! I only got to take part in the fun for about a week before I had surgery. After that I was sidelined from the whole demo situation. That was a shame because there was still a lot of demo to be done. Once the contractors stepped in to help my husband things went quickly. After the walls are down, the tile is busted, wires are exposed, and it looks like a shell instead of a house it gets a little spooky. That moment of, “what did we do” creeps up on you in a hurry and it gets rather easy to wonder if the process will ever end.

Just like many remodel projects, when you tear into something you often find another problem that needs to be addressed. You also might have great design ideas that create more work in the long run. It was easy to tear things out, but it is not easy to put things back together, especially if you have a picky customer, like me. In all reality, most things went quite smoothly, but the things we thought would be easy created the most frustration.

I was sure that tearing out the wall in the kitchen was going to cause problems. We knew it was ok structurally, but I was worried about electrical, sheet rock, and everything else that could go wrong or cause issues. It went smoothly and my husband completed nearly the entire project on his own. The electrician and the granite installers were the only professionals that helped him tackle the project. We also hired plumbers for the project and I shouldn’t leave them out, it was just bad. I think the guys were new to plumbing because my husband had to tell them how to install the faucet, it was that bad. Everything in the kitchen went as planned and there were no major hiccups.

The guest bathroom was another issue, major case of hiccups. Once the old vanity was removed and the new vanity was installed we discovered that the tile had not been installed in all areas of the bathroom and we had some 1980’s leno shining through in my new design plan. The plumbers I mentioned before also struggled in the bathroom. They left the job with exposed blue pex pipe in my bright white newly remodeled bathroom. It was so bad that I cried. Not only were they very slow and extremely expensive, the work was not good. We paid them and moved on. My husband came up with an idea that fit perfectly in my design and we were also surprised to find some matching tile out in an old storage shed on the property. The issues were resolved and we moved forward.

The never-ending DEMO DAY is still ongoing in our master bathroom. Some issues you don’t see until you pull back the layers. We found out that the drain was done incorrectly when the home was built and we have to have the concrete jack hammered out and new plumbing installed. AKA … this is why you haven’t seen any pictures of the master bathroom. It has a beautiful new door that stays closed and I am praying it is complete soon!

What was the biggest issue what we have dealt with? What do you think? I never would have guessed that the most stressful and maddening issue in the entire remodel would be the ceilings. Seriously … the ceiling? YES!!! THE CEILING! UGH … On my list: remove popcorn, remove florescent lights, add can lights, move a couple of fixtures, remove skylights, sheet rock skylight holes, hole from previous wall, new texture and paint. We hired it all out too, y’all! It wasn’t like we were in here playing construction crew. We hired a crew with references and great photos to come knock it out. It was so rough … more crying. Aside from just generally doing bad work they also sprayed texture all over every window in the house, the antique stove, showers, it was everywhere. There wasn’t a room in the house that looked good. Here is another mistake we made that you can all learn from. I was still not able to get around well and I couldn’t be here to check the work. They finished after hours on a Friday and it was dark with only a few spotlights for Jason to check work with. Insert contractor sob story (love y’all … but all of you a lot of you do it) “It’s Friday and I have to get the cash to pay my guys, we can come back and do touch ups”. Don’t do it, don’t fall for it … poof they are gone. Then you walk into your house in the light the next day and loose your ever-loving mind!! Like … HULK OUT … then remember you are a Christian and you can’t hulk. UGH! After this experience we hired another guy to come in and re-do the ceilings. This next guy was a good kid and he was a jack of many trades, but I don’t know that texture and painting were his strong points. Our bedrooms and bathrooms all look fine, no major issues. The focal point of my house, the living room, dining room, and kitchen are not ok. In certain light it looks alright, but to anyone that knows sheet rock and texture or even to an untrained eye in good lighting, its just REAL BAD! At this point we were really done with the ceiling, done with contractors and we needed a place to live. We moved in knowing that we will have to re-do the texture and pain in the main living space of the house at some point in the future. I’m praying that it is at a point when we are gone on a week long vacation because I just can’t with the dust anymore.

So what do you think? Do you want to tear out some walls and get busy? DEMO DAY!! The demo is fun, but the putting it back together part, not so much. I can firmly conclude that I will gladly take part in demo day on future projects, but reputable contractors will be taking it from there. The best part is that is was another project under our belts and more lessons learned. Previous projects we have tackled have not involved as many design and functionality issues, but I learned from each challenge and every frustration. Here’s to another demo day … hopefully coming soon! (NOT AT MY HOUSE) hahahah!!

Focus on what you love — March 18, 2019

Focus on what you love

What are some of your favorite things to do? I might be wrong, but I don’t think many will answer, “stare at my phone”. Even though its not something most of us want to admit, how much time are you spending looking at your phone each day?

I have spent the last few years focused on marketing and a lot of that focus is centered around social media. I was constantly working on posts, creating content, studying competitors, trends and was completely engrossed in social media. Since it was a big focus at work I got my fill of it there. I scrolled occasionally, but it wasn’t something I was doing a lot outside of work. Now that I am out of that world and especially since I spent a few months sick, I found myself spending too much time on social media, particularly Facebook.

I’m not going to hate on social media, I think its great! I love sharing photos and seeing my friends posts! It’s all great! Great until you are constantly pulling out your phone to mindlessly scroll. Sitting in a doctors office, the park, car trips, family time, before bed, when you wake up, when are you scrolling? I decided that I didn’t want to be scrolling anymore, I wanted to look up and focus on what is important to me. If you ask me to make a list of what is important my phone does’t make the cut . I like social media and I’m not getting rid of it, but I did get rid of Facebook on my phone. It’s been a relief, y’all! That right there was proof enough that I needed it. I still have insta and my page manager app, but no mindless scrolling on Facebook at every quiet moment. I check it a couple times a week on the computer and that is perfect for me.

I’m not sharing to tell anyone else they need to get rid of their Facebook app, but I would say that we should evaluate what we are spending our time on. Last week I spent spring break on fun adventures with my boys. Everywhere we went there were people with their heads down, looking at their phones. We aren’t living in the moment. We are so obsessed with reading about other peoples lives that we aren’t living our own.

My oldest noticed that I haven’t been on my phone as much and he sealed the deal that I was spending too much time mindlessly scrolling during downtime. Last week he said, “Mom, you haven’t looked at your phone as much lately”. I agreed and told him that I got rid of the Facebook app on my phone because I didn’t want to be on it as much. He said, “I like that, you are just looking at everything around us now, not at your phone”. They notice, y’all! It might just be on a park bench while they play, or while you are waiting at a doctors office, maybe during a movie night, but they notice! Look up and see what is going on around you, I promise its better than whatever is on your phone!

I challenge you to evaluate how much time you spend on your phone. Could you benefit from a little less? I don’t feel like I’m missing out on a thing just checking my Facebook like we did pre-iPhone … on a computer … dark ages, right? I see the highlights, but my highlight reel is my own life. What do you want to focus on?

I decided I wanted to spend my time living in the moment with my family. In the down time I want to read my bible, read books, grow and challenge myself. I’ll still be checking in occasionally on my private FB account, but don’t use that as a way to communicate with me! You might end up feeling ignored and it will be by complete accident! Watch for cute pictures of my kids and other adventures on Instagram. (side note: handy little button on insta shares those photos with you guys in Facebook land too)


Dazed, Confused ,and Pleural Effused — February 7, 2019

Dazed, Confused ,and Pleural Effused

“Life has many ways of testing a person’s will, either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happen all at once”.

             – Paulo Coelho

I would say the last few months have been the latter, everything all at once. I shared the “bumps in the road” with everyone, but I still haven’t seemed to find the smooth path.

Before Christmas I started having some pain in my chest and back with trouble breathing. We were still commuting Mon-Fri to get Caden to school and working on the house daily. I never really got the opportunity to get that quality rest and re-cooperation the doctors were so big on. They make a big deal out of it for a reason. Not having my own house, space to relax, time to rest, maintaining a very POOR diet, and doing way too much physical labor too soon in a construction zone = more problems.

I tried to ignore the pain and attributed the shortness of breath to all of the dust I was breathing daily, but things just got worse. I made an appointment with a local doctor because after I consulted Dr. Google I was afraid I had a blood clot or a pleural effusion. I showed up to find out that BCBSTX was having widespread problems with their online benefit verification system. My insurance was showing inactive. I got on the phone and verified my benefits myself, but instead of calling to do the same or even letting me pay cash, I was told the office was canceling my appointment. So … yah … that was fun. Gotta love people sometimes. (insert eye roll) So, I left scared and in tears and I texted my surgeons NP. She is awesome like that and I knew she could help. We set up a time to chat on the phone and did a little consultation. She though that since it had been so many weeks since surgery my odds for the more serious things were low. We went over my symptoms and possible causes. (Side note: I had been lifting 5-gallon paint buckets full of paint and a lot of symptoms started shortly after.) Jessica really felt that a had a herniated disk. She said I should rest, stretch, rest some more, not lift heavy things, and if I didn’t see improvement with ibuprofen and time, see someone local.

I made it through Christmas and Caden’s Birthday trip, but the shortness of breath was getting worse and the pain with breathing was pretty intense at times. I finally threw in the towel and went to an urgent care in Abilene. (weird … they had no problem verifying benefits … bitter much) As soon as they got my vitals, symptoms, and medical history, they sent me to the ER side. They got me hooked up to an IV, drew blood, set me up with lots of monitors and started getting me ready for a chest CT with contrast. My doctor suspected a blood clot, but he ended up finding a pleural effusion. Huge praise for no clots! I was also extremely dehydrated (from all that rest I was getting and great life choices), had bronchitis, and started getting the talk about how important it is to take care of myself after all my body has been through. Its one of those things that I know, but I was in the worst situation possible to take care of myself. When you have a family to take care of and are staying with other people, there isn’t time to care for yourself. I still had to make sure kids were fed, bathed, school work was done, whatever mess & chaos we created was cleaned up, we were in bed in time to get up early for that drive & worked all day at the house in-between. The doctor wasn’t impressed with my excuses and he reiterated that I have to rest or I will stay sick. He got me started on breathing treatments and antibiotics and explained the effusion had probably been there since post-surgery and was clearing up on its own. I spent a bit longer in the ER and was released later that afternoon with home antibiotics and albuterol.

A week later I was still struggling with shortness of breath. My mom headed over for a program at Caden’s school and I had to be the bummer that headed back to the urgent care for a follow up. After a chest x-ray and a long visit with the doctor I learned that I still had a pleural effusion. Apparently, it didn’t just disappear overnight. Another round of antibiotics and another talk about rest and taking care of myself, making better lifestyle choices and putting myself first. It was smaller and I was improving! Whew … the first 15 minutes I was there I thought I was heading to regional to meet with interventional radiology to drain it.

Just shy of 3 months post-op and I feel almost like myself. I can finally say prayers with my kids without gasping for air! AWESOME! It doesn’t hurt to take deep breaths and the crackling is gone in my chest. Unfortunately, the health struggles of 2018 carried over in to 2019, but I am declaring them gone!! February was a fresh start and things are going to be good. We are finally in our house!!!!!!!! (It’s not done) hahahah! So many touch ups left, cabinet doors missing, hardware not installed yet, and some doors left to install, entire master bath … then the outside. It seems never-ending, but at least I have a home. I can’t believe this has been such a mess. I sure hope we are on the right path and where God wants us to be. Part of me feels like it shouldn’t be this hard, but I have no choice. Trusting in Him and lots of prayers.

I also need to say again that we are so thankful that Jason’s family opened their homes to us during this time of transition, sickness, and recovery. We never intended for this remodel to take this long, or to invade their space for so long, but everything else happened at once and we had no choice. I also have to say a huge thank you to Jason’s Mom, Ruth. She’s been here working right along side of us many weekends. Finishing this house has been a labor of love and her service has meant a ton to us! I’ve never seen windows this clean … seriously!

I have one more life post and then we should be getting to homestyle fun! I mean life is fun … but homestyle is what we are here for … right?

We really are making progress … I promise!

Big old bump in the road — December 21, 2018

Big old bump in the road

After closing we were itching for a reason to come north and see our new place. We were so ready to be out of that apartment and back to country life. At the end of October, we headed north for a weekend and decided to “camp out” on blow up mattresses and pallets in the new house. We had a fun dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings and then headed back to settle in for the night. I had trouble eating at dinner, but I didn’t think much about it. I had the same trouble a bit in Hawaii just a week or so before. I honestly thought it was great appetite control! Lol … not so much!

The boys were giddy to stay at our house, but we were all exhausted and fell asleep quickly. I woke up sometime during the night and felt awful. I had excruciating abdominal pain and I was extremely nauseous. I thought that I must have a stomach bug coming on or I ate bad food and camped in the bathroom most of the night. Once the boys started stirring, they headed out for breakfast, I told Jason I couldn’t get off the blow up mattress. By the time they got back I couldn’t even sip on water and the pain was worse. Jason had already asked if I wanted to go to the doctor and when I asked again, I didn’t turn him down. We went to a quick care in Abilene where the doctor looked me over and sent me onto Abilene Regional ER. We were planning to be well on the road back to Victoria by now, but I had to get some help and figure out what was going on.

After I got to the ER the pain was even worse. I couldn’t sit up strait and I just wanted someone to knock me out. I remember asking the doctor for Benadryl!! Lol!! That pink stuff always puts me to sleep & I just wanted to be out of pain. The doctor ordered a cat scan and they started an IV. I quickly learned that I wasn’t going to be out of pain anytime soon. Apparently, a new medicine I was taking for weight loss and depression blocks pain medication from giving you any relief. FUN RIGHT???!!!! UGH!!!! I had no idea I would need any pain medication and it wasn’t a side effect that my doctor discussed with me. So, from the time the pain started until I got into the ambulance, I never had any relief from the pain, I just laid miserable in the ER. Since everything happened quickly, we had the boys with us at the ER. Once we realized I might be there a while, Jason called and had family head over to get our little guys out of there.

While Jas was out in the waiting room my ER doc burst in the door and said, “you have a mass on your pancreas and another on your spleen, we can’t help you here. I am trying to get you in with a pancreatic specialist in Fort Worth, they can provide you with a higher level of care. We are going to transfer you via ambulance”.  Then he spun around and walked out. Nothing more than I had masses and I needed a higher level of care. I didn’t really panic, I think I was just so focused on the pain. When Jason came in later, he asked if I knew what they were going to do. I gave it to him just about like the doc gave it to me. I think I just blurted out, “I have a tumor on my pancreas and another on my spleen and they are going to put me in an ambulance and send me to Fort Worth”. I’ve been down the cancer road a couple times before, I’ve spent a lot of time in the hospital and for some reason I wasn’t panicked a bit. I think I might have still been asking for pain meds, Benadryl, someone to hit me in the head with a shovel … anything.

Once they had my transfer lined up the doctor came in and explained more. He told us that one of the masses looked like it was blocking a bile duct in my pancreas causing pancreatitis. This was probably what was causing the pain. They had no clue what the masses were, but they got me accepted for transfer to Medical City in Fort Worth and there I would see Dr. Shariff, a surgical oncologist and pancreatic specialist. Everything went pretty fast from here and before I knew it, I was in an ambulance with a couple of angels! Seriously, my hero’s because they had some drugs on board that were not blocked by my prescription. For the first time all day my pain was decreased, and I was able to sleep. After a nice nap they gave me more meds (angels) because they knew once I got into the next ER and was moved to a room it would be a while until I would get more.

We got to medical city after dark on Sunday evening and within a few hours I was in a room on the surgical floor. Jason arrived later that evening and the boys stayed behind with family in Breckenridge. My first day at Medical City was awful. I was in pain again, we had no answers, no plan, and NO doctors! The place I was sent to for a higher level of care was failing miserably! I had really lost track of time, but once Jason let me know I had been there and in pain for 14 hours and we were done, I could see he was ready to get things moving. Let’s just say the 7th floor was not in it to win it. My care was subpar, and I saw medical student after medical student that all wanted to know the play-by-play on my previous cancer diagnoses, treatment, and surgical histories. I played nice for the first two, but after that I was OUT of PATIENCE … read my chart! I literally gave them a printed cancer treatment summary, full surgical history, all the history you can stand. Go read a chart and stop making me repeat this when I am in pain! It was so awful!! Well … the husband had enough and after talking to every nurse he could find on the 7th floor and getting nowhere, he went to the old interweb. Interesting enough that got them moving! I was quickly off of the 7th floor and to the 6th floor, oncology.

I was doing great through the entire ordeal and was really trusting that this was nothing, but when my bed rolled out of the elevator on the 6th floor and I looked up to see, oncology, it really hit. I wasn’t scared, but I just remember thinking, I don’t want to do this again, I don’t want to be sick. The team on the 6th floor took great care of me. We got my pain under control and we had a plan. More tests and then a biopsy on Tuesday morning. After the biopsy we would know what we were dealing with and we would move forward. The biopsy was easy and afterward we just had to wait. I was thrilled because I could have liquids again!! At this point I still hadn’t met the man I was here to see, the illusive Dr. Shariff. I did have the pleasure of meeting his amazing PA, Jessica. Jason was out of the room later that afternoon and she came in to let me know that they were getting results in and she was gathering the team and we would meet later that day in the family conference room. I don’t know if you have ever been sick, but I have. When they gather you to meet in the family conference room vs. just giving you results at the bedside, it isn’t usually good, that’s been my experience at least. I sat alone in my room for the next few hours praying and crying, I was pretty sure they were going to tell me I had pancreatic cancer when we met.

When the time came to head to the conference room, I think I held my breath all the way down the hall. Inside I met the team. Dr. Shariff, Brad, Jessica, a few students, and my nurse were all there with Jason and I. They had all my scans pulled up and pathology reports in front of them. During the biopsy the doctor was able to get to the mass on my pancreas and biopsy it, but he couldn’t get to the mass on my spleen. They said the mass on my pancreas was not cancer and they expected the same for the mass on my spleen. (huge breath of relief) Then he went onto explain that I would still need surgery to remove the mass because it was blocking a bile duct and causing pancreatitis. This would continue to flare up until we corrected the problem. The explained that they wanted the inflammation to go down before he operated, but I would have part of my pancreas and all my spleen removed. I wasn’t really having it! I wanted to be done now, I had stuff to do! I also voiced my concern about the medical care a friend had received in Victoria. We still needed to head south to finish packing the apartment and I was terrified to get sick there and get stuck in the hospital. As God had planned it, Brad spoke up. He knew exactly what I was talking about because he is from Tivoli! He completely understood my lack of trust in the care I might receive, and they gave me instructions on a direct transfer to put my mind at ease. This solved one problem, but I still had a house to remodel, the holidays were coming, I just wanted to get it done!

hosptial stay 1 halloween

I took some time to think and pray on it and I told Dr. Shariff later that I would wait like he wanted. Weird right …. Let the doctor be the doctor. Hard! Plans were made, and I would get to go home prior to surgery and manage the packing and moving.

So, first night in the new house didn’t go well and we had a big wrench thrown in our plans. Surgery was scheduled for November 12th. We gathered the rest of our things from Victoria and headed north. The house was not ready, and we wanted to avoid living in another remodel so we asked to stay with Jason’s grandma. We got settled in and got Caden enrolled in school ahead of surgery, but things were just wild and a mess. I don’t do well with chaos and my personality craves plans, order and all things organized. God apparently really wanted me to stretch and grow during all of this!

Cadens 1st day of school at Clyde

Through all the tests and even during that conference I didn’t really think of the surgery as being a big deal. This was going to be my 14th after all, I was sure it couldn’t be that bad. I went for pre-op the Friday before surgery and this was the first time it really sank in, maybe it was beat in … but it was there. This was a big deal, there were a lot of possible complications and I wasn’t going to be myself for a long time! The rest of the weekend my anxiety was in high gear and I was scared.

Monday came, and it was time to face the music. We met with Dr. Shariff before surgery and his calming presence put me at ease. The surgery took a few hours and Dr. Shariff had some of his own bumps to deal with along the way, but in all it went very well. Ahead of surgery I just knew I would be out of there in 3 days’ time, but that was a joke! I think 3 days post op I still had a catheter and epidural in place, I was walking, but it wasn’t pretty. I ended up staying 7 days and I was still in a lot of pain, I couldn’t eat much, had terrible indigestion and gas, and I still had my JP drain.

The first couple of days out of the hospital were miserable! I was released the week of Thanksgiving, but I couldn’t eat, and I slept most of the day. Recovering, not being able to do much of anything for yourself, and not having your own home to be in, that’s rough. It hasn’t been easy, but there is much to be thankful for! I met with my surgeon and all the pathology is back from both masses and the lymph nodes they took, all is clear and benign.

At 3 weeks post-op I was still a far cry from myself. I didn’t have much energy and I was still having a hard time tolerating a lot of different foods. I finally got the JP drain removed and released to do light cardio (walking) and around the new year I can start with more intense activities.

At 5 weeks post-op I’m shocked every day that I am still so slow and often very sore. The area around my incision is still painful, my abs are constantly sore, and I am dealing with terrible back pain and spasms.  Trips to the store, driving, folding clothes, it just takes it out of me. I am so ready to be myself again! I know its going to take time to get stronger and I am a little better each day.

I am thankful for all of God’s love and protection through this big old bump in the road and I am ready to get back on track.

Therefore, we have been delayed on the remodel, but I promise we are moving forward now! I’m not good for much help, but I can make selections and design decisions, so I come along for the ride and do what I can. Now we can get onto the fun part, the remodel!! Check back soon!

Finding our New Home —

Finding our New Home

After we decided on our new hometown, we got busy looking for the perfect place. As it turns out it was hard to find our place in Schroeder (because that is what we wanted), there just wasn’t a copy and paste version available. It’s exactly what we were looking for, but we sure couldn’t find it. Our amazing realtor worked hard and showed us so many places. We were all over the place too! I would have had serious reservations about showing too many properties when you are looking at raw land, ranch properties, fixer uppers …. dumps, and then scheduling showings in neighborhoods. We didn’t know what exactly we wanted, but we knew we weren’t finding it and we were running low on time.

After so many showings and so many LONG trips to see properties I sat down one night and looked through listings again. There was a place that our realtor had sent me before, but I didn’t even schedule a showing. It checked most of the boxes, but when I looked, I just thought, I’m going to want to update everything and we won’t be able to make the budget work. As I looked at it that night, I just had this peace about it and I thought, this is it. We had just returned to Victoria from some showing and we couldn’t head back. We had too much going on at work and had just moved out of our home in Schroeder and into a TINY apartment. I sent a text to our realtor to find out if it was still available and she immediately contacted the listing agent. It was, but there were lots of showings and they were expecting an offer. There wasn’t time to make the trip to look. We asked my father-in-law to meet our realtor and walk through the next day. God love him, he sure wasn’t much help. Hahah! Love ya, Craig. Our realtor had walked through a zillion places with me and she is just a person that you meet, and you know, she’s good people. We got her on speaker and told her to tell us what she though.

That folks … that’s how we bought a property without ever looking at it. Nothing else would work and this all fell into place. We negotiated and had the place under contract later that night and we finally got to see it during our inspections. That just us … a little crazy, but a whole lot of trust in God.

exterior front of house

We didn’t even tell family what we had done. When we went to meet the inspector, we just told everyone we were looking at a property. Only the two of us knew that it was under contract & as long as the inspection was ok, this would be our new home. Driving up I was relieved! It was adorable, and the pictures did not do it justice, it felt like home. This quaint little 3 bedroom needed some updates and the property needs some cleanup to be where we want it, but it had good bones.

After the inspection was done, we let our family know that we already had the place under contract and were moving forward … insert judgmental looks here! Lol It’s alright though, we knew it was right.

Our realtor had told us that the family selling the property had built the home and were the original owners of the property, but had reached an age where they needed to move into town to something more manageable. The understanding of the gift God had given us didn’t come full circle until closing. We purchased our property and home from the Knifin family. We met them at closing and learned more about these wonderful people. The land has long been in the Knifin family and they drew the plans and built this home themselves. They have lived here for the last 30 years and they are absolutely heaven sent.  It was hard for me to leave our place in Schroeder after only 5 years of memories, I can’t imagine leaving after 30. After getting to meet this beautiful family and hug their necks it was hard to contain the tears. When you look for a new home it can get so stressful. We had cried, been mad, lost several places during negotiations and we couldn’t make anything work. That was all planned and God had the perfect place for us on FM 113. In His perfect time, we found peace and the right place was revealed. Not only did we find beautiful land and a wonderful home, but we were given the most wonderful sellers to work with. I am honored to make this place my own and raise my family here in this place that they have loved for so many years. Mr. Knifin has stopped by a few times since closing and I can’t wait to have them both out after our renovations are done. The home was in great condition, but we are making it ours. We closed in early October and we are finally moving forward. Stay tuned for more updates and sooner than later I’ll start sharing remodel progress.

Big Changes — December 4, 2018

Big Changes

I guess its time to get back to it. The last year has been difficult. We had so many great times, but it was full of uncertainty, change, and stress. I hate keeping things from people I care about and the year was full of secrets. Now that things are done, and we are moving forward I am ready to get back to work!

If you have followed along before or if you know me, you know that we have been part owners and full-time operators of a mobile home dealership in Victoria, Texas for the last 6 years. We made the decision to end our partnership and move closer to family quite a while ago, but all things take time. This wasn’t an overnight decision and it sure didn’t happen overnight either! I know it all happened in His perfect timing.

Throughout 2018 we couldn’t say much about why we were selling our property in Schroeder, TX or what our plans were. That was hard. I see things black and white and I appreciate honesty above almost anything else, so being dishonest took a toll on me. It wasn’t easy. In the process of selling our place I lost my ability to work on projects in that amazing shop and The Swanky Hen had to sit on the back burner.


Just taking a moment to remember that amazing shop!

Its now December and our separation from our previous business is complete.  We have purchased a new place (that needs some love) in Clyde, Texas. We are closer to family and we are really excited about this new adventure. We have several things in “the works”, but as life would have it the transition hasn’t been easy … more about that later.

So, I’m here, I’m alive and I’m still all about The Swanky Hen. We are about to start a complete remodel on our cute new place and I can’t wait to share that with y’all! It’s going to be fun, fast, and fearless.



Sweat. Sawdust. Therapy. — October 5, 2017

Sweat. Sawdust. Therapy.


I never imagined myself working with tools and getting filthy for enjoyment, much less therapy. The shop is just that. Shop Time = My Time. Almost a year ago we made the final decision to sell our home. We started remodeling and working really hard on the place. We didn’t put the place on the market until this year, but I had to start cleaning out my shop, my “junk” and making everything neat for showings. A little piece of me died not being able to work on my stuff!! I haven’t regularly worked in the shop in almost a year!!! When homes need staging and I have the opportunity to create, I jump at it, but time hasn’t allowed for me to generate larger inventories or have booth’s. 😦


We have taken our home off of the market and changed our plans a bit, which means … I can be a little messy again!! I still don’t have time to work up a full inventory or fill a booth, but I am going to get dirty in the shop ASAP!! I am going to be working on some fall and winter decor for myself and some things for family as well. I also have another house I will be staging in the next month or so.

staging swanky


WHOOP! — October 4, 2017


FAMILY TIME!!! Life has been chaos since Hurricane Harvey. Most of the time I think my life is a hot mess, but since the storm, it is just pure craziness!!! (Side note: we were super blessed and didn’t suffer major damages. Our lives are still a mess.)

My husband works all the time and I am used to that. We are blessed in the fact that I can drag my kids to our office so they can see Daddy and we have a great team that tolerates their visits and occasional noise. Since Harvey we have gone from having Jason work a lot to having Jason work all the time. Usually 6 days a week he is home after the boys are in bed and we just don’t see him a lot. Even when he isn’t in the office working, he is meeting with insurance adjusters, meeting with customers, past customers, doing site inspections, and the list goes on. He’s just in high demand and there is only 1 Jason. Unfortunately right now, we don’t get a lot of him.

Last weekend we were a little shorthanded, but we still decided to make our annual trip to College Station for the All Aggie Rodeo. We really needed it this year. Jason roped GREAT, especially considering we just got horses back south a week prior and he rode them once. He won 3rd in the Open TR.

2017 aggie game On a weekend when we probably needed to rest a little, we decided to go ALL OUT! We took the boys to their first Midnight Yell on Friday. All Aggie Rodeo on Saturday afternoon & Aggie Game on Saturday night. Church with friends on Sunday, a beautiful baby dedication, and lunch before we left. Cannon was a little tired, but had a blast. Caden absolutely loved everything!!!!!! He wants to go back to another Aggie game as soon as we can and went ahead and put in a request for Aggie Baseball or Football tickets for his birthday. He’s already bleeding maroon!! Fightin’ Texas Aggie Class of 2033 coming at ya! Cannon’s favorite parts were the popcorn, lemonade, and pizza! Caden’s favorite parts were learning about the Corps of Cadets, Aggie Band, Aggie Football, and the Yell Leaders!! He loved yelling BTHO South Carolina!!! We talked about only using that word inside Kyle Field. Hopefully he remembers 😉

All in all, it was a great weekend!!!! I am so glad we took the time to step away and have some family time!! It was needed by all!! Huge thanks to our sweet friends, The Herrmann’s for letting our family, dogs, and horses stay at their place. We love and miss y’all so much! Thanks to the Walsh’s for hanging with us at midnight yell, the rodeo, and the game! We always have a blast with y’all! At the age’s of 4 and 6 we have made our college destination decisions. The Calkins’ Boys will be members of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Class of 2033 and 2036! Did you think we would have it any other way???